Cybercrime is more than hackers with hoodies stealing financial information from people or companies. It's an evolving crime type and an ongoing threat in 2020. Every year new threats appear in new forms, creating new and severe risks. Living without internet in 2020 is incredibly drastic, but there are other ways to stay away from online danger.
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Rather than taking drastic steps, the best way to avoid cybercrime, and protect yourself, is to know how to recognize it. Handling your online life with care, knowing what to do when you spot a cybercrime, whether it's related to you or not, will keep you safe.
How to Protect Yourself Against Cybercrime
You can't stop the bad guys from doing bad things, but you can protect yourself from falling victim to cybercrime with some safety steps:
1. Use Browser Protection
Browser protection tools like Guardio work directly within the browser, where most threats like phishing scams, identity theft, and more, attempt to gain access to your devices. When browser protection is enabled, it can stop threats BEFORE they reach your computer rather than after, as would be the case with traditional anti-virus.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Passwords are the digital keys to all our information, which is why they must be secure. Strong passwords are not just long ones. They need to be separate from your personal information and change for each account you own. Many people do not use secure passwords, and in fact, 23.2 million victim accounts worldwide used 123456 as a password. Learn more about password security.
3. Keep Your Software up to Date
Whenever a vulnerability is found within an operating system or software, the manufacturer will create an update that will patch the vulnerability. Those are the notifications you get to "update your software." When you don't update your operating system, cybercriminals can gain access to your system by exploiting flaws. It is important to complete these updates without delay because from the moment the update is released, the information on the security vulnerability is out there, and cybercriminals can quickly attack anyone who has not yet completed the update.
4. Manage Your Social Media
Set your social media profiles to private. This makes it more difficult for criminals to obtain information about you that's best shared only with those closest to you. Private information on social media accounts is the first thing crooks look for when hacking into accounts, as they can give a lot of information on passwords, password reset hints.
But it's not just your profile, and you need to be suspicious of anyone you don't know personally on social media. Cybercriminals create fake profiles used to collect personal information about others, which can lead to money scams and identity theft. They pose as people like you and me on social media every day and scam the friends and families of those cloned out of thousands of dollars by convincing unsuspecting victims that they're in trouble and need financial help.
5. Beware of Public WiFi
The big problem with public WiFi is that there are so many risks involved. Business owners and consumers believe that great service is being done by offering free WiFi. But in many cases, the security on these networks have holes or don't exist at all. These connections are far less secure because you don't know who set it up, who else is connecting to it, or what activities are being done on the network that might put you at risk.
6. Make the Internet an Open Topic at Home
When it comes to kids, we need to monitor their online activity. Each age should be observed differently (See our age-based guide for kids online safety). But what's in common for all ages is keeping open lines of communication so that you can have an honest conversation, and they feel comfortable coming to you with concerns, whether their own or their friends. Be sure to set limits at age-appropriate levels and activate browser protection to protect them from scams, malware, and malicious code.
Trust is essential between family members, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't supervise all Internet-enabled devices and keep these devices in a public area of the home. Make sure your children know that they should never interact with people they don't know, as cyberbullies can easily disguise themselves. We also recommend you check the browser history on your child's devices regularly to see which websites your child frequents.
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7. Account Monitoring
Not every data breach makes the big headlines, only a small number of these breaches are made known to the public. Companies hide breaches every day for fear of the negative attention and loss of business that comes with their violation of customers' trust. Account monitoring can alert you right away if your account information was shared online or on the dark web so that you know to begin taking action to protect yourself right away.
8. Acknowledge That No One Is Unhackable
Even if you have no money to steal, a credit score that may never recover, or have loads of debt, your information is still precious to criminals. Here are some ways that hackers can affect you, even if you have no money or have a poor credit rating.
9. Know What to Do If You've Fallen Victim
When an organization that maintains your information is breached, knowing what steps to take will let you act quickly and without allowing panic and emotions to cloud your better judgment. Here are the steps that you can take to immediately protect your accounts and limit the damage associated with a data breach involving your information.
You Can Help Fight Cybercrime
Fighting cybercrime is a social responsibility. Knowing what to do when you spot cybercrime, how to protect yourself online from becoming a victim, can save not only you but thousands of others from falling victim.